The historic center of Florence is compact so it’s easy to move between the main attractions on foot quite quickly. The railway station is also close in to the center, only about ten minutes walk from the Duomo which is the heart of the city.
Here are the top attractions you should try and work into your one-day itinerary.
You can’t come to Florence without buying a little something and this market is lively and full of bargains, especially leathergoods and souvenirs. It’s located near the Medici Chapel, which houses two of Michelangelo’s masterpieces: the Medici tombs. If leather isn’t that important, then maybe this is something you can skip. Remember there’s amazing jewelry you can also take home as a souvenir.
Brunellesci’s famous dome rises majestically over the city and together with the nearby Giotto’s Campanile and the Baptistry (and its famous doors), it’s a must see. You’ll probably find yourself passing it a few times during the day. There may be a bit of a line to get inside, but once you get through the doors, you can admire and run to the next location, so do this first if you like churches.
Michelangelo’s bold statue has become a symbol of Florence. You can see a replica standing in its original position outside city hall, Palazzo Vecchio (now a museum) in the Piazza della Signoria. The original sculpture of David is in the Accademia Museum which you may also want to visit, but the queues can be long and if you only have one day it may not be worth the time. You can buy a ticket ahead of time to skip the line, which will help. There are a few other cool things to see inside, but David is the star of the show and the rest shouldn’t take up much time.
This is the main museum of Florence. Situated between Piazza della Signoria and the river Arno, the Uffizi holds some of the world’s greatest art. You can book tickets in advance online and save some time that way. If you can, choose an early time slot in the day to avoid the crowds. There is a rooftop café which gives lovely views over the rooftops of Florence towards the Duomo and the Campanile. The Uffizi itself can take several hours if you want to really explore, so either choose to make this a main event or pick out just a few pieces like the famed Birth of Venus by Boticelli and go straight there.
The most historic bridge over the river Arno, lined by narrow shops housing goldsmiths, this is the place to enjoy a gelato (buy it on the way to the bridge), while looking up and down river towards the green hills outside Florence.
Beyond the Ponte Vecchio is the Pitti Palace, which houses several museums including paintings, furnishings and fashion. The adjacent Boboli Gardens are lovely and may be a good place to take break.
If you only have one day to see Florence wear good walking shoes and have a plan. Here’s a great one-day tour that includes many of the attractions listed above.